Because women are used in the Scriptures to symbolize religious systems, the Great Prostitute is indeed a religious system. The three remaining religious systems on the survey are the Apostate Church, a One-World Religion, and Humanism (which at its core is the worship of self).
Which religious system the Great Prostitute is can be interpreted by where she sits. The text says she sits in four places — on the beast (Antichrist), on seven hills, on seven kings, and across the nations and peoples of the world.
Apostate Church — The majority of voters (47%) voted for the Apostate Church. These voters could be correct based on the sitting reference in verse 9 to seven hills. Two major cities that rest upon seven hills are Rome and Istanbul (formerly Constantinople named after the Roman Emperor Constantine), and both were centers of government in the Roman Empire at different points in time. Istanbul can be discounted, though, for at the time of John’s writing Rome was the commanding city of the known world, and John would have recognized it as such. Also, Istanbul loses any future prominence due to the elimination of Islam as a world religious system, as mentioned earlier. John was clearly looking towards Rome as the city on seven hills. Rome is the heart of the revived Roman Empire, which the world today is seeing grow out of the European Union.
Rome also houses the Vatican, which is the seat of Roman Catholic papal authority. This authority reaches across the “peoples, multitudes, nations and languages” of the world as verse 15 states. In its history, the Roman Catholic Church has the blood of countless Protestant believers and the victims of crusaders and inquisitors on its hands.
Also, after the Rapture, the only “Church” left will be the apostate followers of Christ who, as 2 Timothy 3:5 states, “have a form of godliness but denying its power.” While many true believers will come out of the Catholic Church and be raptured as part of the Bride of Christ, the overall heretical structure will continue to exist during the first half of the Tribulation to give credence and support to the other apostate Christian denominations left in the world. The Vatican after the Rapture will be the universalistic banner to which all the Christians in name only will rally to.
One-World Religion — The second largest voting bloc in the poll (28%) believe the Great Prostitute will be a one-world religion. These voters could be correct based on her sitting on the seven kings of verse 10. Five of the kings fell before John’s time, so they must have been pivotal to world rulership in relation to Israel. The sixth “one is” to John would have been Caesar. The seventh king who “has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while” is the Antichrist, called so in 1 John 2:18. “The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king” and “belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction” could only be Satan himself ruling through these seven human rulers throughout history, as there are no other kings after Jesus Christ once Jesus sets up His Millennial Kingdom. These kings extend over a time period much longer than the 2,000 years the Church has been around and cover all the world’s peoples.
Humanism — A small minority (only 2%) voted that Humanism in all its flavors such as Cultural, Modern, Religious, but particularly Secular, will be the religion of the first half of the Tribulation. I myself voted in this group for this reason — all false religion stems from man’s belief in Satan’s lie from the Garden of Eden where Satan said “you will be like God” (Genesis 3:5). All expressions of worship not towards God are flat out rebellion against the Creator. Even if we personally are not the object of our own worship, by setting ourselves up in our own religion we are worshiping self, so therefore it is Humanism.
The Old Testament is overwhelmingly filled with God’s stated hatred of spiritual harlotry. He chastised Israel again and again for running after foreign gods in rebellion. Be it an apostate form of what God truly wants, or a deviation from all norms that God has established for worship — man’s rebellion is about the worship of self.
By the midpoint of the Tribulation when Satan indwells the Antichrist, whatever flavor of humanistic self-worship the people adhere to, all will be made to cease to exist. The Antichrist, False Prophet, and the Ten Rulers will be sure to take the Great Prostitute of human-willed spiritual harlotry and the institution in which she is enshrouded and “bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire” (verse 16). Only one religion will be allowed to exist 3 1/2 years into the Tribulation by the Antichrist’s demonic master, and that will be the worship of Satan through his Antichrist “messiah.”
Praise be to Jesus Christ who returns 3 1/2 years later to doom that “beast” to eternal destruction and set up His kingdom of peace and righteousness!”
Given the studies done by men like Mike Heiser, Derek Gilbert, Bill Salus, Tom Horn, Gary Stearman, Timothy Alberino, L A Marzulli and Russ Dizdar; I hold that the Woman will be a one world religion comprised of a combination of the Apostate (Romish) Church and all giving allegiance to it. Already, Rome has acquired and “re-united” all major sectors of Christendom, as well as caught the allegiance of some sectors of Judaism. It has tried but failed to fully acquire Islam, due to the prophecy disclosed in the article that Islam will be destroyed by the Psalm 83, Ezekiel 38-39 war.
Those giving allegiance to Rome at the rapture of the true Church (and the unveiling of “The Man of Sin, a.k.a. Antichrist) will be: conquered & westernized Islam (Chrislam), all apostate “Christian” denominations, Humanist Naturalist Syntheism/Transhumanism (based on panspermic evolution and transhumanism), New Age mysticism (finding roots in the ancient European/ANE/Eastern myths) and especially Jewish mysticism (which invades all sectors of Judaism).
See also The 7th & 8th Beast of Revelation 17